WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S Senator Gary Peters, Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, convened a hearing with Joseph A. Blount, President and Chief Executive Officer of Colonial Pipeline, to examine a recent hack that forced the company to shut down over 5,500 miles of pipeline that runs from Texas to New York that provides gas to 13 states. At the hearing, Peters pressed Blount on why Colonial was unprepared to defend against the online attack and what the company is doing to respond to and recover from this breach that led to shortages in gas supplies and price increases for consumers across the East Coast.
The breach highlighted the urgent need to secure critical infrastructure systems from foreign adversaries and criminal organizations who are relentless in their pursuit to exploit vulnerabilities and infiltrate networks. At the hearing, Peters called for strong action to bolster cyber defenses and hold these bad actors accountable for their attacks.
“In the weeks since your company was struck, we have seen a series of other attacks, on everything from our transportation networks to meat-packing centers. Those private sector strikes follow especially damaging attacks on our government, including the extensive SolarWinds hack last year,” said Peters during his opening statement. “While the objectives of these attacks differ, they all demonstrate that bad actors, whether criminal organizations or foreign governments, are always looking to exploit the weakest link, infiltrate networks, steal information, and disrupt American life.”
Peters continued: “The federal government must develop a comprehensive, all of government approach to not only defend against cyber-attacks, but punish foreign adversaries who continue to perpetuate them or harbor criminal organizations that target American systems. This approach requires bolstering our defenses, and using the full might of our diplomatic, military, and intelligence capabilities.”
To watch video of Senator Peters’ opening remarks, click here. For text of Peters’ opening remarks as prepared, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions, click here.
To watch video of Senator Peters’ closing remarks, click here.
As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led efforts to bolster our nation’s cybersecurity defenses. Peters previously convened two hearings with top federal cybersecurity officials to discuss the SolarWinds hack against a number of American information networks. Peters also helped secure and enact nearly $2 billion to modernize and secure information systems critical to the federal pandemic response as part of the American Rescue Plan Act. In April, the Senate also passed his provision to help protect our nation’s public water infrastructure technology systems, following recent cyber-attacks on water utilities. Peters also introduced bipartisan legislation, included in the competitiveness bill the Senate is considering, to provide additional resources and better coordination for serious cyber-attacks against public and private networks.